Batman Begins Beat Sheet

Batman Begins

Screenplay by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer
Story by David S. Goyer
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Running time: 131 minutes
Year: 2005

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Please note that the following map is different than the one featured in Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. To learn more about the book (with a comprehensive analysis and breakdown of Batman Begins), click here.

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BASIC STORY MAP

Batman Begins Screenplay

PROTAGONIST: Bruce Wayne / Batman
SKILL: Physical prowess and technology
MISBEHAVIOR: Fear/Idealist/Haunted by death of his parents
EXTERNAL GOAL: To uphold his family’s legacy (Story A) / To become Batman (Story B) / To protect Gotham from its enemies
INTERNAL GOAL: To conquer his fear / To turn fear against those who prey on the fearful
MAIN DRAMATIC CONFLICT: Ra’s Al Ghul
THEME: Fear
CENTRAL DRAMATIC QUESTION: Will Wayne conquer his fear and save Gotham City from its enemies?
ENDING: Wayne saves Gotham City from the League of Shadows and protects his identity.
ARC: Wayne goes from a frightened, lonely child to a powerful avenger.

FULL BEAT SHEET

ACT I

Batman Begins Screenplay Opening Images

1 – OPENING IMAGES: Clouds of REELING BATS silhouetted against a sepia sky. They form an enormous BAT-LIKE SYMBOL.

STORY A:

Batman Begins Script Well Setup

2 – THE WELL SETUP: In the greenhouse off Wayne Manor, YOUNG BRUCE WAYNE steals an old arrowhead from YOUNG RACHEL DAWES. He runs and hides, unknowing resting on a flimsily wood cover for an old well. The wood breaks and young Bruce falls thirty painful feet to the bottom.

2 – Bats explode out of the darkness, swarming young Bruce, terrifying him beyond anything he’s experienced in his short life.

STORY B:

3 – In a Bhutanese jail, a bearded, weathered man snaps awake from a nightmare. This is BRUCE WAYNE.

4 – Wayne is attacked by six prisoners in the courtyard. A powerful fighter, he takes them all out by himself.

5 – Locked in solitary, DUCARD emerges from the shadows and startles Wayne. He represents Ra’s Al Ghul and The League of Shadows, offering Wayne a path to serve true justice.

8 – Wayne climbs a mountain and knocks on the vast doors of a Himalayan fortified monastery. The doors open. A man waits at the end of a long corridor. His name is RA’S AL GHUL.

9 – ARMED WARRIORS surround Wayne. Ducard asks Wayne what he seeks.

WAYNE

I seek the means to fighting justice: to turn fear against those who prey on the fearful.

Batman Begins Screenplay Inciting Incident

9 – INCITING INCIDENT: Wayne hands Ducard the bloomed blue poppy. Ducard tells Wayne he must master his fear to manipulate fear in others. Though Wayne is fatigued, Ducard attacks…

10 – Wayne goes on the offensive, but Ducard takes him down. Ducard places the blue poppy on Wayne’s lapel and speaks quietly…

DUCARD

Tell us, Wayne...

VIOLENT FLAPPING, SCREECHING BLACK RATS- swarming, chittering-

DUCARD (V.O.)

(whispers)

What do you fear?

STORY A:

11 – Young Bruce lay injured at the bottom of the well. His father, THOMAS WAYNE rescues him.

11 – THE WELL SETUP: ALFRED, the Wayne’s trusted butler, escorts young Bruce and Thomas into Wayne Manor. On their way in, young Bruce hands young Rachel the arrowhead.

ALFRED

Took quite a fall, didn’t we, Master Bruce?

THOMAS

And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

12 – Thomas wakes Young Bruce up. Evident Young Bruce had a rough night.

THOMAS

The bats again?

(beat)

You know why they attacked you? They were afraid of you.

YOUNG BRUCE

Afraid of me?

THOMAS

All creatures feel fear.

YOUNG BRUCE

Even the scary ones?

THOMAS

Especially the scary ones.

13 – On their way into the city, Thomas, MARTHA WAYNE (Bruce’s mother), and Young Bruce ride the elevated train. The Wayne family built the transportation system as a way to give back to the city that gave them so much.

14 – At the Gotham Opera House, Young Bruce has a panic attack from the bat-like imagery on the stage. He begs his father to leave.

Batman Begins Screenplay Parents Death

14 – INCITING INCIDENT (STORY A): In the alley way behind the opera house, the family is held up by a MAN with a gun. Thomas remains calm, but the man panics and shoots, killing both Thomas and Martha. Seconds before he dies, Thomas says one last thing to Young Bruce:

THOMAS

Don’t be afraid.

STORY B:

18 – TRAINING MONTAGE. Ducard mentors Wayne.

21 – On the shore of the frozen lake, Ducard tells Bruce, though powerful, anger can also destroy you. Vengeance calmed Ducard’s anger. Wayne can’t see the moral of the story.

DUCARD

Why, Bruce? Why could you not avenge your parents?

STORY A:

Batman Begins Script SMF

23 – STRONG MOVEMENT FORWARD: Bruce has brought a gun. He intends to avenge his parents’ death.

25 – Rachel informs Bruce the DA (her boss) struck a deal with his parent’s murderer. The man will testify against Carmine Falcone in exchange for early parole.

25 – At the hearing, JOE CHILL is granted early parole.

26 – As Chill exits the courtroom, Bruce waits with his gun concealed. Before Bruce can act, a woman shoots Chill, saying “Carmine Falcone says hello!” Bruce watches him die.

28 – Rachel drives Bruce down into the subterranean streets of Gotham. Outside a bar frequented by Falcone, she attempts to explain that Chill is not the cause, he’s the effect of their society. It’s corruption that is killing Gotham.

28 – FATHER PROUD SETUP: Bruce shows her the gun, admitting he was at the hearing for revenge. Rachel slaps him.

RACHEL

Your father would be ashamed of you.

29 – Bruce tosses the gun into the ocean.

30 – Back at the bar, Bruce confronts Falcone. Falcone believes Bruce should appreciate Chill’s murder, but Bruce feels opposite — anger. Falcone robbed him of revenge.

BRUCE

I’m not afraid of you.

FALCONE

Because you think you got nothing to lose. But you haven’t thought it through. You haven’t thought about your lady friend at the DA’s office; your old butler.

Batman Begins Script End of Act One Turn

30 – END OF ACT ONE TURN: Bruce realizes that the people he cares for will be in danger if he takes action against Falcone.

Batman Begins Screenplay End of Act One Decision

31 – DECISION: Outside the bar, Bruce gives all his cash away and exchanges his coat with a homeless man. He runs toward a departing freight ship and leaves Gotham behind.

STORY B:

Batman Begins Screenplay SMF

33 – STRONG MOVEMENT FORWARD: In the monastery’s throne room, Ducard grinds the dry blue poppy to dust. He sets the dust on fire and instructs Wayne to breathe in the smoke.

DUCARD

You’ve traveled the world to understand the criminal mind and conquer your fears, but the criminal is not complicated and what you really fear is inside yourself. You fear your own power, you fear your anger -- the drive to do great, terrible things. Now, you must journey inwards. You are ready.

Batman Begins Screenplay End of Act One Turn

38 – END OF ACT ONE TURN & COMPASSION FOR ENEMIES SETUP: With his fear purged, Wayne is now ready to lead the men and become a member of the League of Shadows. One final task to demonstrate his commitment to justice: the execution of a criminal. Wayne refuses.

DUCARD

Your compassion is a weakness your enemies will not share.

WAYNE

That’s why it’s so important. It separates us from them.

39 – DECISION: Wayne puts his sword to the criminal’s neck, but instead of executing the man, he flings a hot iron into the mezzanine above where all the explosive powers are stored. Explosions roar and through the chaos, Ra’s Al Ghul attacks Wayne.

40 – Wayne battles Ra’s Al Ghul. An explosion knocks them both down and debris crushes Ra’s Al Ghul, killing him. Wayne grabs an unconscious Ducard and leaps from the monastery seconds before it explodes.

Batman Begins Script

41 – Ducard slides down the mountain’s icy slope. Wayne dives after him and grabs hold of his arm. With his opposite, gauntlet-clad arm, Wayne buries the bronze scallops into the ice, saving them both from falling to their death.

ACT II-A

Batman Begins Screenplay Act Two

43 – On a private jet headed back to Gotham, Wayne informs Alfred he will show the people of Gotham the city doesn’t belong to the criminals and corrupt.

WAYNE

People need a dramatic example to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored. I can be destroyed. But as a symbol...as a symbol I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting.

ALFRED

What symbol?

WAYNE

Something elemental. Something terrifying.

43 – It’s revealed Wayne has been absent for seven years. Wayne Enterprises CEO had him declared dead so he could take the company public. Wayne keep his fortune and company in tact by leaving everything to Alfred.

Batman Begins Screenplay First Trial

47 – FIRST TRIAL / FIRST CASUALTY (internal): Wayne turns on a light and a cyclone of bats surround him. He rises to his feet, perfectly calm. Wayne has conquered his fear.

48 – Crane meets with Falcone. They are working together, but Falcone is not the head of the operation. There’s someone above Crane and Falcone fears him. Crane asks Falcone to take care of a problem: Rachel Dawes. Falcone agrees.

52 – Fox shows Wayne some of the treasures inside Applied Sciences. A grapple gun, a nomex survival suit for advanced infantry equipped with a kevlar biweave and reinforced joints. Fox is suspicious of Wayne’s requests, but in the end, believes all of Wayne Enterprises belongs to him anyway.

Batman Begins Script First Trial

53 – FIRST TRIAL: Below Wayne Manor, Wayne fortifies his cave, builds his suit.

Batman Begins Screenplay The Tumbler

58 – Wayne drives the tumbler, built as bridging vehicle for the military. Though they never made the bridge work, two tumblers could perform a ramp-less jump across a river with towing cables and create a bridge. He’s found his new batmobile.

59 – Flass meets with Falcone. Falcone wants Flass at the docks so nothing happens with the last shipment. Flass agrees and inquires about the hit on the assistant DA, believing it would bring too much heat on their operation. Wayne eavesdrops with audio surveillance.

FALCONE

Never underestimate Gotham city. People get mugged coming home from work every day of the week. Sometimes things just go bad.

60 – Wayne assembles his bat suit and gadgets. Alfred questions him over his choice of a symbol.

ALFRED

Why bats, Master Wayne?

WAYNE

Bats frighten me. It’s time my enemies shared my dread.

62 – BATMAN hides in the shadows, terrifying Falcone’s men, and takes them all out, one-by-one, until he drops into the thick of them and brings them all down.

62 – Falcone sees the mysterious Batman effortlessly subduing all his men and rushes back to the limo, where he finds his driver knocked out cold.

Batman Begins Screenplay Midpoint

63 – MIDPOINT (external): Batman breaks through the limo’s sunroof and pulls out Falcone, scared out of his mind.

FALCONE

What the hell are you?

BATMAN

I’m Batman.

64 – Exiting the subway train, Rachel is attacked by two of Falcone’s thugs. Batman appears, subduing one of the men — the other runs. Batman gives Rachel leverage on the corrupt men on Falcone’s bankroll.

Batman Begins Script Internal Midpoint

66 – MIDPOINT (internal): Back the docks, Gordon arrives to find all of Falcone’s men arrested. Gordon dismisses it, as they will never be able to tie all of it back to Falcone, but something gives Gordon a sense of optimism: Falcone is chained to a large spotlight. The light hits the clouds above in the image of bat.

ACT II-B

Batman Begins Screenplay Scarecrow

69 – Earle is briefed on the robbery of one of their cargo ships. The ship was carrying a prototype weapon, a micro-wave emitter used to evaporate an enemy’s water supply.

70 – Wayne enters a five star hotel’s restaurant with two models. The guest around him all have different opinions on Batman. Some are excited that Batman has put Falcone behind bars. Bruce acts indifferent to Batman’s cause.

70 – When the Maitre D’ approaches with a request to ask Wayne and his guest to leave (both of whom lay naked in a decorative pool), Wayne stuffs a check into the Maitre D’s coat, saying he’s buying the hotel.

Batman Begins Screenplay

71 – YOUR ACTIONS DEFINE YOU SETUP: Soaking wet with the two models at his side, Wayne bumps into Rachel as his exits the hotel. She can’t help but notice his company.

WAYNE

Rachel, all of this...it’s not me...it’s inside...I am...more.

RACHEL

Bruce, deep down you may still be that great kid you used to be. But it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.

Rachel moves past him. Wayne stands there, eyes burning.

73 – At county jail, Crane meets with Falcone for evaluation. Falcone knows about Crane’s experiments and is willing to turn over all his dirty secrets.

74 – Crane pulls out his mask and becomes SCARECROW. A cloud of white smoke shoots out of Crane’s briefcase, inducing a powerful hallucinogen on Falcone.

74 – Outside the interview room, Crane informs the prison official that Falcone is insane. He will talk to the judge and have him transferred to a secure wing at Arkham for treatment.

Batman Begins Screenplay Power Assumption

79 – ASSUMPTION OF POWER: Batman takes out Crane’s thugs, but not before Crane dons the Scarecrow mask and hits him directly in the face with his hallucinogen. Under its effects, Batman cannot react. Scarecrow douses him with gasoline and sets him on fire. Batman dives out the window, crashing hard onto a car below. The rain does its part to put out the fire, but Batman is injured and barely manages to escape.

86 – At Arkham, Rachel questions Crane over Falcone’s diagnosis. Batman spies from outside. She demands a new evaluation, including blood work. Crane escorts her out, but first asks her to see something.

87 – Rachel follows Crane into a large room. Dozens of inmates work refining a power substance, while others pour a milky liquid into a water main. Rachel darts out of the room and into the elevator. Crane catches up, but as Scarecrow, and hits her with the gas.

87 – Rachel is terrified. Scarecrow questions her, but lights are knocked out — Batman is there. He instructs his men to call the police — their work is already done and nothing can stop them now. Rachel was given a highly concentrated form of gas, she will be dead soon, as “the mind can only take so much.”

88 – Batman strikes from the shadows and takes out three of Scarecrow’s men within seconds.

89 – Batman takes out all of Scarecrow’s men. He grabs Scarecrow, removes his mask and hits him with his gas. Crane is terrified. Batman asks him who he’s working for — Crane says, “Ra’s Al Ghul” moments before he passes out.

Batman Begins Screenplay End of Act Two Turn

89 – END OF ACT TWO TURNS:

  • Rachel has been poisoned.
  • Crane was poisoning Gotham’s water supply.
  • Ra’s Al Ghul, a man Wayne believes to be dead, is working with Crane.
Batman Begins Script

ACT III

Batman Begins Screenplay Act Three

99 – Back at Arkham, Gordon questions the team analyzing the water. They hypothesize Gotham has not felt the effects of the poison as it may have to be absorbed through the lungs.

99 – After she wakes, Batman instructs Rachel to give two of the antidotes to Gordon — one for himself and one for mass production. He gives her a sedative that knocks her out.

101 – Alfred berates Wayne over his antics as Batman. Wayne jumps back at him – it was for Rachel. He asks Alfred to take care of Rachel and ask all his guest to leave.

ALFRED

Those are Bruce Wayne’s guest out there, sir. You have a name to maintain.

WAYNE

I don’t care about my name.

ALFRED

It’s not just your name, sir. It’s your father’s name. And it’s all that’s left of him. Don’t destroy it.

Batman Begins Screenplays Ra's Al Ghul

104 – A SOCIETY DAME introduces Wayne to another person he “must meet” — a man named Ra’s Al Ghul. It’s an ASIAN MAN, wearing the blue poppy, and Wayne does not recognize him.

WAYNE

You’re not Ra’s Al Ghul. I watched him die.

VOICE (O.S.)

But is Ra’s Al Ghul immortal?

Wayne TURNS. Standing there. Smiling. Ducard.

DUCARD

Are his methods supernatural?

WAYNE

(understanding)

Or cheap parlor tricks to conceal your true identity.., Ra’s?

Ducard (THE REAL RA’S AL GHUL) smiles acknowledgment.

105 – Wayne asks Ra’s Al Ghul to let all the guest go — his problem is not with them. Ra’s tells Wayne he can explain it on his own. Wayne addresses his guest as if he were drunk, demanding they all leave. One man tells him “the apple has fallen far from the tree.”

106 – Ra’s Al Ghul lets him in on the plan: The League of Shadows will release Crane’s poison on the city and let the people tear themselves apart with fear.

106 – Ra’s Al Ghul’s men, dressed as police, break into Arkham and release all the inmates.

107 – Wayne’s attempts to point out the error of Ra’s Al Ghul’s ways fall on deaf ears.

RA’S AL GHUL

The League of Shadows has been a check of human corruption for thousands of years. We sacked Rome, loaded trade ships with plague rats, burned London to the ground. Every time a civilization reaches the pinnacle of its decadence, we return to restore the balance.

WAYNE

Gotham isn’t beyond saving. Give me more time. There are good people here.

RA’S AL GHUL

You are defending a city so corrupt we have infiltrated every level of its infrastructure.

107 – Ra’s men release Crane and give him back his Scarecrow mask.

107 – POINT OF NO RETURN: Wayne tells Ra’s he’ll defend Gotham against The League…

RA’S AL GHUL

When I found in that jail, you were lost. I believed in you. I took away your fear and showed you a path. You were my greatest student. It should be you standing by my side, saving the world.

WAYNE

I’ll be standing where I belong: between you and the people of Gotham.

RA’S AL GHUL

No one can save Gotham.

108 – Ra’s Al Ghul’s men set fire to Wayne Mansion. Wayne and Ra’s Al Ghul face off…

RA’S AL GHUL

When a forrest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural. Tomorrow the world will watch in horror as its greatest city destroys itself. The movement back to harmony will be unstoppable this time.

WAYNE

You attacked Gotham before?

RA’S AL GHUL

Of course. Over the ages, our weapons have become more sophisticated. With Gotham, we tried a new one: economics, but we underestimated certain of Gotham’s citizens, such as your parents. Dumbed down by one of the very people we were trying to help. Create enough hunger and everyone becomes a criminal. Their deaths galvanized the city into saving itself and Gotham has limped on ever since. We are back to finish the job. This time, no misguided idealists will get in the way. Like your father, you lack the courage to do all that is necessary. If someone stands in the way of true justice, you simply walk up behind them and stab them in the heart.

109 – Ra’s Al Ghul’s men blow a hole in Arkham’s exterior and all the inmates escape.

110 – Outside the blazing Wayne Manor, Alfred knocks out of Ra’s Al Ghul’s guards with a golf club.

111 – Alfred helps Wayne escape to the Batcave, as Wayne Manor crumbles above.

Batman Begins Screenplay Well Payoff

112 – THE WELL PAYOFF: At the bottom of the elevator shaft, Wayne’s hit hard with result of his actions: the mansion has been destroyed — everything his father and his father’s father built. Alfred comments that the “Wayne legacy is more than bricks and mortar.”

Wayne stares up at the glowing shaft. Lost in his despair.

WAYNE

I thought I could... help Gotham...but I’ve failed...

Alfred makes a futile show of dusting down his jacket.

ALFRED

And why do we fall, sir?

Wayne looks at Alfred’s bruised, smudged, yet dignified face.

ALFRED

So that we might better learn to pick ourselves up.

112 – Rachel crosses the bridge into the narrows; gives Gordon the antidotes.

113 – The bridges to the narrows raise — no one’s getting off.

117 – Arkham inmates surround Rachel and the lost boy. One pulls a knife. Rachel grabs a gun from a dead police officer. Seconds before she’s about to use it, Batman drops down, knocks out the knife-wielding lunatic, and pulls Rachel and the lost boy to safety above.

Batman Begins Screenplay Rachel Dawes

118 – YOUR ACTIONS DEFINE YOU PAYOFF: Safe on a rooftop, Rachel thanks Batman…

RACHEL

You could die. At least tell me your name.

Batman turns. Looks back at her.

BATMAN

It’s not who I am underneath...

(touches his chest)

But what I do that defines me.

Rachel steps forward, recognizing her own words, REALIZING-

RACHEL

Bruce-

But he is already FALLING...

119 – Batman flies above all the poisoned citizens of the narrow. A long glide and he lands on a platform as Ra’s Al Ghul and his team load the microwave emitter into the elevated train.

Batman Begins Screenplay Train

122 – Batman gets into the train and faces off with Ra’s Al Ghul. They battle as Gordon races in the tumbler towards his destination.

RA’S AL GHUL

You finally learned to do what is necessary.

BATMAN

I won’t kill you... but I don’t have to save you.

Batman Begins Climax

124 – CLIMAX & MIND YOUR SURROUNDINGS PAYOFF: Batman sets off explosives at the train’s rear. With the strong draft, he engages his wings and flies out the back. Ra’s Al Ghul doesn’t have enough time to react. He stays on board and plummets to his death.

EPILOGUE

128 – Wayne boards up the well from his childhood accident outside what’s left of Wayne Manor. Regarding Chill’s trail, Rachel apologizes, but Wayne insists she was right. They kiss.

RACHEL

And I found out about your mask.

WAYNE

Batman’s just a symbol, Rachel.

RACHEL

(touches Wayne’s face)

No, this is your mask. Your real face is the one criminals now fear. The man I loved, the man who vanished, he never came back at all. But maybe he’s still out there somewhere. Maybe someday when Gotham no longer needs Batman, I’ll see him again.

Batman Begins Screenplay Father Proud

129 – FATHER PROUD PAYOFF: Rachel tells Wayne his father would be proud of him.

130 – Wayne finds his father old stethoscope. He tells Rachel he’ll rebuild Wayne Manor just like it was before — “brick for brick.”

131 – On the rooftop of the police station, Gordon and Batman meet over Batman’s new spotlight. With half of Arkham’s inmates now on the streets, they have a big job ahead of them. Gordon hands Batman the calling card of a new suspect — a Joker’s card.

GORDON

I never said thank you.

Batman looks out at the lights of Gotham. Cloak billowing around him.

BATMAN

And you’ll never have to.

Batman DROPS from the rooftop, GLIDING on the night wind. Gordon smiles. He can’t help it.

Batman Begins Screenplay Epilogue

131 – THE END.

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Learn more about Batman Begins

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_Begins

https://stephenfollows.com/resource-docs/scripts/batman_begins.pdf

William Robert Rich
William Robert Rich

William Robert Rich is a story analyst, screenwriter, and co-author of Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. He's currently based in Austin, Texas.

Articles: 120

6 Comments

  1. I was just wondering why the beats don’t fall exactly on the sweet spots according to the story map book by dan?

    • Great question, Mr. Anderson.

      Analysis in screenwriting in so subjective it’s not even funny. Take a look at some of the Blake Synder beat sheets versus mine, or better yet, just listen to the podcast and you’ll find that Dan and I don’t always agree on a screenplay’s structure. Beats are a way to say “these types of scenes happen here” and that’s extremely helpful when you’re learning how to craft a script. Here’s my beat sheet for Midnight in Paris:

      http://screenplayhowto.com/beat-sheet/midnight-in-paris-beat-sheet/

      Notice how I note the sequences? The beats I’ve noted are the types of scenes, or beats, Dan developed with Story Maps. I highly doubt Woody Allen used a structure paradigm. He developed tried-and-true sequences, some of which happen to correspond to Story Maps beats, around three acts.

      In the end, do what makes sense for you. Keep educating yourself on the craft and stay consistent until your logic defeats the choices you make. Remember that this isn’t a science — and thank god for that.

  2. Makes sense. This was a question I been wondering for a long time and thank you for answering it and also educating me. I think once you get the hang of crafting your screenplay or anything you learn in life, that your able to experiment with it and be as creative as you want. Thanks again. I’m only 18 and have so much to learn. 🙂

  3. I have so much to learn though. I love it, writing is a great craft to me. Thank you for your kindness. I will take that into consideration. Thanks again Rob.

  4. Thanks for doing a story map on my favourite vigilante film. I find this very helpful as a scriptwriter.

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